Since I last mentioned the organization Alternatives for Simple Living several years ago, it has expanded in a variety of new and welcome ways. Alternatives is a nonprofit, nondenominational venture that publishes and stocks the most comprehensive selection of "simple living" materials available.
The group is devoted to helping Christians celebrate holidays — and live throughout the year — according to basic principles of the faith. They especially emphasize how to escape the commercialism that has taken over holidays and events such as weddings, and how to incorporate working for justice into our ordinary daily activities.
Best known is their annual Christmas resource Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? that is packed with practical ideas for simplifying the season, along with reflections on its theology. But Alternatives stocks many other materials that promote the concept of simplicity. Among Lenten and Easter materials is the Before and After Easter: Activities and Ideas for Lent to Pentecost (Augsburg Books), which suggests crafts, service projects and ideas for family worship. Another Lenten resource, Watch and Pray: Meditations in Dramatic Form for the Season of Lent (CSS Publications), contains seven dramatic readings ideal for an adult study group to perform and discuss.
A variety of materials tell how-to — create and give modest gifts, live an environmentally conscious lifestyle, make a family pledge to nonviolence and teach children the principles of social justice — with resources for every age group. Hunger resources include cookbooks and advice for rethinking and renewing table grace.
Earlier in its 25-year-history, most Alternatives materials were print. Now videos, CDs, posters, calendars, games and artwork are offered. And in the print department, bumper stickers!
You can call Alternatives to request a resource guide at (800) 821-6153 or visit www.simpleliving.org to learn more, including how to become a member and receive discounts. Contact them and you will be doing yourself or your congregation a favor that will greatly enrich the new year.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers